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Abnormal effort-based decision-making represents a potential mechanism underlying motivational deficits (amotivation) in psychotic disorders. Previous research identified effort allocation impairment in chronic schizophrenia and focused mostly on physical effort modality. No study has investigated cognitive effort allocation in first-episode psychosis (FEP).
Cognitive effort allocation was examined in 40 FEP patients and 44 demographically-matched healthy controls, using Cognitive Effort-Discounting (COGED) paradigm which quantified participants’ willingness to expend cognitive effort in terms of explicit, continuous discounting of monetary rewards based on parametrically-varied cognitive demands (levels N of N-back task). Relationship between reward-discounting and amotivation was investigated. Group differences in reward-magnitude and effort-cost sensitivity, and differential associations of these sensitivity indices with amotivation were explored.
Patients displayed significantly greater reward-discounting than controls. In particular, such discounting was most pronounced in patients with high levels of amotivation even when N-back performance and reward base amount were taken into consideration. Moreover, patients exhibited reduced reward-benefit sensitivity and effort-cost sensitivity relative to controls, and that decreased sensitivity to reward-benefit but not effort-cost was correlated with diminished motivation. Reward-discounting and sensitivity indices were generally unrelated to other symptom dimensions, antipsychotic dose and cognitive deficits.
This study provides the first evidence of cognitive effort-based decision-making impairment in FEP, and indicates that decreased effort expenditure is associated with amotivation. Our findings further suggest that abnormal effort allocation and amotivation might primarily be related to blunted reward valuation. Prospective research is required to clarify the utility of effort-based measures in predicting amotivation and functional outcome in FEP.
Seasonal influenza virus epidemics have a major impact on healthcare systems. Data on population susceptibility to emerging influenza virus strains during the interepidemic period can guide planning for resource allocation of an upcoming influenza season. This study sought to assess the population susceptibility to representative emerging influenza virus strains collected during the interepidemic period. The microneutralisation antibody titers (MN titers) of a human serum panel against representative emerging influenza strains collected during the interepidemic period before the 2018/2019 winter influenza season (H1N1-inter and H3N2-inter) were compared with those against influenza strains representative of previous epidemics (H1N1-pre and H3N2-pre). A multifaceted approach, incorporating both genetic and antigenic data, was used in selecting these representative influenza virus strains for the MN assay. A significantly higher proportion of individuals had a ⩾four-fold reduction in MN titers between H1N1-inter and H1N1-pre than that between H3N2-inter and H3N2-pre (28.5% (127/445) vs. 4.9% (22/445), P < 0.001). The geometric mean titer (GMT) of H1N1-inter was significantly lower than that of H1N1-pre (381 (95% CI 339–428) vs. 713 (95% CI 641–792), P < 0.001), while there was no significant difference in the GMT between H3N2-inter and H3N2-pre. Since A(H1N1) predominated the 2018–2019 winter influenza epidemic, our results corroborated the epidemic subtype.
Better understanding of interplay among symptoms, cognition and functioning in first-episode psychosis (FEP) is crucial to promoting functional recovery. Network analysis is a promising data-driven approach to elucidating complex interactions among psychopathological variables in psychosis, but has not been applied in FEP.
This study employed network analysis to examine inter-relationships among a wide array of variables encompassing psychopathology, premorbid and onset characteristics, cognition, subjective quality-of-life and psychosocial functioning in 323 adult FEP patients in Hong Kong. Graphical Least Absolute Shrinkage and Selection Operator (LASSO) combined with extended Bayesian information criterion (BIC) model selection was used for network construction. Importance of individual nodes in a generated network was quantified by centrality analyses.
Our results showed that amotivation played the most central role and had the strongest associations with other variables in the network, as indexed by node strength. Amotivation and diminished expression displayed differential relationships with other nodes, supporting the validity of two-factor negative symptom structure. Psychosocial functioning was most strongly connected with amotivation and was weakly linked to several other variables. Within cognitive domain, digit span demonstrated the highest centrality and was connected with most of the other cognitive variables. Exploratory analysis revealed no significant gender differences in network structure and global strength.
Our results suggest the pivotal role of amotivation in psychopathology network of FEP and indicate its critical association with psychosocial functioning. Further research is required to verify the clinical significance of diminished motivation on functional outcome in the early course of psychotic illness.
Upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) account for substantial attendances at emergency departments (EDs). There is a need to elucidate determinants of antibiotic prescribing in time-strapped EDs – popular choices for primary care despite highly accessible primary care clinics. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with purposively sampled physicians (n = 9) in an adult ED in Singapore. All interviews were analysed using thematic analysis and further interpreted using the Social Ecological Model to explain prescribing determinants. Themes included: (1) reliance on clinical knowledge and judgement, (2) patient-related factors, (3) patient–physician relationship factors, (4) perceived practice norms, (5) policies and treatment guidelines and (6) patient education and awareness. The physicians relied strongly on their clinical knowledge and judgement in managing URTI cases and seldom interfered with their peers’ clinical decisions. Despite departmental norms of not prescribing antibiotics for URTIs, physicians would prescribe antibiotics when faced with uncertainty in patients’ diagnoses, treating immunocompromised or older patients with comorbidities, and for patients demanding antibiotics, especially under time constraints. Participants had a preference for antibiotic prescribing guidelines based on local epidemiology, but viewed hospital policies on prescribing as a hindrance to clinical judgement. Participants highlighted the need for more public education and awareness on the appropriate use of antibiotics and management of URTIs. Organisational practice norms strongly influenced antibiotic prescribing decisions by physicians, who can be swayed by time pressures and patient demands. Clinical decision support tools, hospital guidelines and patient education targeting at individual, interpersonal and community levels could reduce unnecessary antibiotic use.
Treatment for hoarding disorder is typically performed by mental health professionals, potentially limiting access to care in underserved areas.
We aimed to conduct a non-inferiority trial of group peer-facilitated therapy (G-PFT) and group psychologist-led cognitive–behavioural therapy (G-CBT).
We randomised 323 adults with hording disorder 15 weeks of G-PFT or 16 weeks of G-CBT and assessed at baseline, post-treatment and longitudinally (≥3 months post-treatment: mean 14.4 months, range 3–25). Predictors of treatment response were examined.
G-PFT (effect size 1.20) was as effective as G-CBT (effect size 1.21; between-group difference 1.82 points, t = −1.71, d.f. = 245, P = 0.04). More homework completion and ongoing help from family and friends resulted in lower severity scores at longitudinal follow-up (t = 2.79, d.f. = 175, P = 0.006; t = 2.89, d.f. = 175, P = 0.004).
Peer-led groups were as effective as psychologist-led groups, providing a novel treatment avenue for individuals without access to mental health professionals.
Declaration of interest
C.A.M. has received grant funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and travel reimbursement and speakers’ honoraria from the Tourette Association of America (TAA), as well as honoraria and travel reimbursement from the NIH for serving as an NIH Study Section reviewer. K.D. receives research support from the NIH and honoraria and travel reimbursement from the NIH for serving as an NIH Study Section reviewer. R.S.M. receives research support from the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Aging, the Hillblom Foundation, Janssen Pharmaceuticals (research grant) and the Alzheimer's Association. R.S.M. has also received travel support from the National Institute of Mental Health for Workshop participation. J.Y.T. receives research support from the NIH, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and the California Tobacco Related Research Program, and honoraria and travel reimbursement from the NIH for serving as an NIH Study Section reviewer. All other authors report no conflicts of interest.
Background: Human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived neural stem cells (hiPS-NSCs) represent an exciting therapeutic approach for traumatically spinal cord injury (SCI). Unfortunately, most patients are the in chronic injury phase where a dense perilesional chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan (CSPG) scar significantly hinders regeneration. CSPG-degrading enzymes can enhance NSC-mediated recovery, however, nonspecific intrathecal administration causes off-target effects. We aimed to genetically engineer hiPS-NSCs to express a scar-degrading ENZYME into their local environment to enhance functional recovery. Methods: A bicistronic scar-degrading ENZYME and RFP reporter vector was non-virally integrated into hiPS-NSCs and monoclonalized. ENZYME activity was assessed by WST-1 and DMMB biochemical assays and an in vitro CSPG spot assay with hiPS-NSC-derived neurons. To assess in vivo efficacy, T-cell deficient rats (N=60) with chronic (8wk) C6-7 SCIs were randomized to receive (1)SMaRT cells, (2)hiPS-NSCs, (3)vehicle, or (4)sham surgery. Results: SMaRT cells retained key hiPS-NSC characteristics while stably expressing ENZYME. The expressed ENZYME could appropriately degrade in vitro and ex vivo CSPGs. While blinded neurobehavioural and immunohistochemical assessments are ongoing at 40wks post-injury, an interim analysis demonstrated human cells extending remarkably long (≥20,000µm) axons along host white matter tracts. Conclusions: This work provides exciting proof-of-concept data that genetically-engineered SMaRT cells can degrade CSPGs and human NSCs can extend long-distance processes in chronic SCI.
Introduction: The GridlockED game is a serious game aimed at teaching junior learners about flow and organization in the emergency department(ED). With serious games, the mechanism of learning is thought to be via the gameplay experience. Objectives built into gameplay are aimed at teaching players about a specific concept; in this case, we hoped to teach players about interprofessional collaboration and basic mechanics that drive flow in the ED. However, before a player can be taught, he or she must be engaged and have a positive gameplay experience. From the GridlockED gameplay, we aim to explore how a players gameplay experience related to observed actions while playing the game, including participating in decision making and keeping the team organized. Methods: From April-August 2017, participants were invited to play 4 turns of a GridlockED game session. They were video recorded during gameplay. After playing the game, they were surveyed using the previously derived Game Experience Questionnaire (GEQ) to measure their gameplay experience. The videos were reviewed by two research team members (SH, EJ), tallying various observed game actions. We conducted Pearson correlation between players GEQ total score and their observed actions. Results: A total of 32 participants (13 attendings, 5 senior residents, 10 junior residents, and 4 nurses) played the game. The average total GEQ was 67.2/132 (SD=10.7), suggesting most players had a moderately good gameplay experience. The total GEQ score correlated with component subscores within the questionnaire. Overall observed activity correlated well with each observed action subtype. However, the GEQ total score did not correlate significantly with the total observed action (Pearsons r=0.18,p=0.32). GEQ total score was found to be moderately correlated to an observation that a player participated in determining strategy during gameplay (r=0.36,p=0.04). There was a moderate negative correlation between determining strategy during gameplay and teaching about the game (r=-0.37,p=0.04) or emergency medicine concepts (r=-0.47,p<0.01). Conclusion: The GEQ is internally consistent, but does not have a strong relationship to observed actions, suggesting that game experience does not necessarily correlate with observable actions. This suggests that players may be intellectually stimulated or engaged without necessarily completing any observable actions during gameplay.
Introduction: With the increasing volume of medical literature published each year, it is difficult for clinicians to translate the latest research into practice. Awareness is the first step of knowledge translation and journals have begun using social media to increase the dissemination and awareness of their publications. Infographics can describe research findings visually, are shared broadly on social media, and may be a more effective way to convey information. We hypothesized that infographic abstracts would increase the social media dissemination and online readership of research articles relative to traditional abstracts. Methods: In this randomized controlled trial, 24 original research articles were chosen from the six issues of the Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine (CJEM) published between July 2016 and May 2017 (4 articles per issue). Half were randomized to the infographic and control groups within each issue. Infographic articles were promoted using a visual infographic outlining the findings of the article. Control articles were promoted using a screen capture image of each articles abstract. Both were disseminated through the journals social media accounts (Twitter and Facebook) along with the link to the selected article. Infographics were also published on CanadiEM.org. Abstract views, full text views, and the change in Altmetric score were tracked for 30 days and compared between groups. Unpaired two-tailed t-tests were used to detect significant differences. Results: Abstract views (mean, SD) were significantly higher for infographic articles (378.9, 162.0) than control articles (175.5, 69.2, p<0.001). Mean Altmetric scores were significantly higher for infographic articles (26.4, 13.8) than control articles (3.4, 1.7, p<0.0001). There was no statistically significant difference in full-text views between infographic (49.7, 90.4) and control articles (25.3, 12.3). Conclusion: CJEM articles promoted on social media using infographics had higher abstract viewership and Altmetric scores than those promoted with traditional abstracts. Although there was no difference in full-text readership, our results suggest that infographic abstracts may have a role in increasing the dissemination of medical literature.
In Hong Kong, universal varicella vaccination started in July 2014. Before this, children could receive varicella vaccine via the private market. We analysed the epidemiology of varicella and zoster before universal vaccination. We estimated varicella vaccination coverage through surveys in preschool children. We estimated the burden of varicella and zoster with varicella notifications from 1999/00 to 2013/14, Accident and Emergency Department (A&E) attendance and inpatient admissions to public hospitals from 2004/05 to 2013/14. We fitted a catalytic model to serological data on antibodies against varicella-zoster virus to estimate the force of infection. We found that varicella vaccination coverage gradually increased to about 50% before programme inception. In children younger than 5 years, the annual rate of varicella notifications, varicella admission and zoster A&E attendance generally declined. The annual notification, A&E attendance and hospitalisation rate of varicella and zoster generally increased for individuals between 10 and 59 years old. Varicella serology indicated an age shift during the study period towards a higher proportion of infections in slightly older individuals, but the change was most notable before vaccine licensure. In conclusion, we observed a shift in the burden of varicella to slightly older age groups with a corresponding increase in incidence but it cannot necessarily be attributed to private market vaccine coverage alone. Increasing varicella vaccination uptake in the private market might affect varicella transmission and epidemiology, but not to the level of interrupting transmission.
Multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs) are increasingly reported in residential care homes for the elderly (RCHEs). We assessed whether implementation of directly observed hand hygiene (DOHH) by hand hygiene ambassadors can reduce environmental contamination with MDROs.
From July to August 2017, a cluster-randomized controlled study was conducted at 10 RCHEs (5 intervention versus 5 nonintervention controls), where DOHH was performed at two-hourly intervals during daytime, before meals and medication rounds by a one trained nurse in each intervention RCHE. Environmental contamination by MRDOs, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter species (CRA), and extended-spectrum β-lactamse (ESBL)–producing Enterobacteriaceae, was evaluated using specimens collected from communal areas at baseline, then twice weekly. The volume of alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) consumed per resident per week was measured.
The overall environmental contamination of communal areas was culture-positive for MRSA in 33 of 100 specimens (33%), CRA in 26 of 100 specimens (26%), and ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae in 3 of 100 specimens (3%) in intervention and nonintervention RCHEs at baseline. Serial monitoring of environmental specimens revealed a significant reduction in MRSA (79 of 600 [13.2%] vs 197 of 600 [32.8%]; P<.001) and CRA (56 of 600 [9.3%] vs 94 of 600 [15.7%]; P=.001) contamination in the intervention arm compared with the nonintervention arm during the study period. The volume of ABHR consumed per resident per week was 3 times higher in the intervention arm compared with the baseline (59.3±12.9 mL vs 19.7±12.6 mL; P<.001) and was significantly higher than the nonintervention arm (59.3±12.9 mL vs 23.3±17.2 mL; P=.006).
The direct observation of hand hygiene of residents could reduce environmental contamination by MDROs in RCHEs.
The neuropsychological origins of negative syndrome of schizophrenia remain elusive. Evidence from behavioural studies, which utilised emotion-inducing pictures to elicit motivated behaviour generally reported that that schizophrenia patients experienced similar affective experience as healthy individuals but failed to translate emotional salience to motivated behaviour, a phenomenon called emotion–behaviour decoupling. However, a few studies have examined emotion–behaviour decoupling in non-psychotic high-risk populations, who are relatively unaffected by medication effects.
In this study, we examined the nature and extent of emotion–behaviour decoupling in in three independent samples (65 schizophrenia patients v. 63 controls; 40 unaffected relatives v. 45 controls; and 32 individuals with social anhedonia v. 32 controls). We administered an experimental task to examine their affective experience and its coupling with behaviour, using emotion-inducing slides, and allowed participants to alter stimulus exposure using button-pressing to seek pleasure or avoid aversion.
Schizophrenia patients reported similar affective experiences as their controls, while their unaffected relatives and individuals with high levels of social anhedonia exhibited attenuated affective experiences, in particular in the arousal aspect. Compared with their respective control groups, all of the three groups showed emotion–behaviour decoupling.
Our findings support that both genetically and behaviourally high-risk groups exhibit emotion–behaviour decoupling. The familial association apparently supports its role as a putative trait marker for schizophrenia.
Evidence suggests that autism and schizophrenia share similarities in genetic, neuropsychological and behavioural aspects. Although both disorders are associated with theory of mind (ToM) impairments, a few studies have directly compared ToM between autism patients and schizophrenia patients. This study aimed to investigate to what extent high-functioning autism patients and schizophrenia patients share and differ in ToM performance.
Thirty high-functioning autism patients, 30 schizophrenia patients and 30 healthy individuals were recruited. Participants were matched in age, gender and estimated intelligence quotient. The verbal-based Faux Pas Task and the visual-based Yoni Task were utilised to examine first- and higher-order, affective and cognitive ToM. The task/item difficulty of two paradigms was examined using mixed model analyses of variance (ANOVAs). Multiple ANOVAs and mixed model ANOVAs were used to examine group differences in ToM.
The Faux Pas Task was more difficult than the Yoni Task. High-functioning autism patients showed more severely impaired verbal-based ToM in the Faux Pas Task, but shared similar visual-based ToM impairments in the Yoni Task with schizophrenia patients.
The findings that individuals with high-functioning autism shared similar but more severe impairments in verbal ToM than individuals with schizophrenia support the autism–schizophrenia continuum. The finding that verbal-based but not visual-based ToM was more impaired in high-functioning autism patients than schizophrenia patients could be attributable to the varied task/item difficulty between the two paradigms.
Given the concerns regarding the adverse health outcomes associated with weight gain and metabolic syndrome in relation to use of second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs), we aimed in this study to explore whether the increase in the use of SGAs would have any impacts on the trend of excess mortality in people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (BPD).
Two nationwide samples of individuals with schizophrenia and BPD were identified in Taiwan's National Health Insurance Research Database in 2003 and in 2008, respectively. Age- and gender-standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) were calculated for each of the 3-year observation periods. The SMRs were compared between the calendar year cohorts, by disease group, and by causes of death.
The mortality gap for people with schizophrenia decreased slightly, revealing an SMR of 3.40 (95% CI 3.30–3.50) for the 2003 cohort and 3.14 (3.06–3.23) for the 2008 cohort. The mortality gap for BPD individuals remained relatively stable with only those aged 15–44 years having an SMR rising significantly from 7.04 (6.38–7.76) to 9.10 (8.44–9.79). Additionally, in this group of BPD patients aged 15–44 years, the natural-cause-SMR increased from 5.65 (4.93–6.44) to 7.16 (6.46–7.91).
Compared with the general population, the gap in the excess mortality for people with schizophrenia reduced slightly. However, the over 200% difference between the cohorts in the excess mortality for BPD individuals aged 15–44 years could be a warning sign. Future research to further examine the related factors underlying those changes is warranted.
The aim of this study was to compare the dosimetric parameters and effects of simultaneous integrated boost (SIB) and traditional sequential electron boost, after helical tomotherapy, because of the lack of studies in this field in the current literature.
Computed tomographic data of 14 patients who received SIB in 2012–2015 were collected from Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital. New tomotherapy with SIB plans and tomotherapy with sequential boost plans were generated for each patient, and results were compared.
Conformation number, mean dose, dose received by 95% volume (both sides), ipsilateral lung volume receiving 20 Gy (V20) and skin dose (right side) were found to be significantly better for SIB (p<0·05), however coverage index and gross target volume dose showed no significant difference, and heart dose was significantly higher for SIB on the right side.
Tomotherapy with SIB may be able to offer less organ at risk dose (except for the heart), while maintaining the ability to deliver adequate dose coverage.
Screening for depression in older adults is recommended.
To evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of the Two-Question Screen for older adults and compare it with other screening instruments for depression.
We undertook a literature search for studies assessing the diagnostic performance of depression screening instruments in older adults. Combined diagnostic accuracy including sensitivity and specificity were the primary outcomes. Potential risks of bias and the quality of studies were also assessed.
A total of 46506 participants from 132 studies were identified evaluating 16 screening instruments. The majority of studies (63/132) used various versions of the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) and 6 used the Two-Question Screen. The combined sensitivity and specificity for the Two-Question Screen were 91.8% (95% CI 85.2–95.6) and 67.7% (95% CI 58.1–76.0), respectively; the diagnostic performance area under the curve (AUC) was 90%. The Two-Question Screen showed comparable performance with other instruments, including clinician-rated scales. The One-Question Screen showed the lowest diagnostic performance with an AUC of 78%. In subgroup analysis, the Two-Question Screen also had good diagnostic performance in screening for major depressive disorder.
The Two-Question Screen is a simple and short instrument for depression screening. Its diagnostic performance is comparable with other instruments and, therefore, it would be favourable to use it for older adult screening programmes.
Rural-to-urban migrant workers are a large marginalised population in urban China. Prevalence estimates of common mental health problems (CMHPs) in previous studies varied widely and very few studies have investigated migration-related factors of CMHPs in migrant workers. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence and risk factors of CMHPs among Chinese migrant workers.
A random sample of 3031 migrant workers of ten manufacturing factories in Shenzhen, China, completed a standardised questionnaire containing socio-demographic and migration-related variables and the Chinese 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12). A GHQ-12 score of three or higher was used to denote the presence of CMHPs.
The prevalence of CMHPs was 34.4% in Chinese migrant workers. In multiple logistic regression, risk factors for CMHPs included being 16–25 years old (odd ratio [OR] 1.65, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.28, 2.12), being 26–35 years old (OR 1.36, 95% CI: 1.05, 1.75), low monthly income (OR 1.42, 95% CI 1.04, 1.92), poor living condition (OR: 1.76, 95% CI: 1.22, 2.54), physical illness in the past 2 weeks (OR 1.72, 95% CI 1.43, 2.05), having worked in many cities (OR 1.34, 95% CI 1.03, 1.74), infrequently visiting hometown (OR 1.56, 95% CI 1.22, 1.99), poor Mandarin proficiency (OR 1.51, 95%CI 1.13, 2.01), a low level of perceived benefits of migration (OR 1.33, 95% CI 1.14, 1.55) and working more than 8 h/day (OR 1.39, 95% CI 1.14, 1.70).
CMHPs are very prevalent among Chinese migrant workers. Given the large number of Chinese migrant workers, there is an urgent need to address the mental health burden of China's migrant worker population.
Better understanding of the complex interplay among key determinants of functional outcome is crucial to promoting recovery in psychotic disorders. However, this is understudied in the early course of illness. We aimed to examine the relationships among negative symptoms, neurocognition, general self-efficacy and global functioning in first-episode psychosis (FEP) patients using structural equation modeling (SEM).
Three hundred and twenty-one Chinese patients aged 26–55 years presenting with FEP to an early intervention program in Hong Kong were recruited. Assessments encompassing symptom profiles, functioning, perceived general self-efficacy and a battery of neurocognitive tests were conducted. Negative symptom measurement was subdivided into amotivation and diminished expression (DE) domain scores based on the ratings in the Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms.
An initial SEM model showed no significant association between functioning and DE which was removed from further analysis. A final trimmed model yielded very good model fit (χ2 = 15.48, p = 0.63; comparative fit index = 1.00; root mean square error of approximation <0.001) and demonstrated that amotivation, neurocognition and general self-efficacy had a direct effect on global functioning. Amotivation was also found to mediate a significant indirect effect of neurocognition and general self-efficacy on functioning. Neurocognition was not significantly related to general self-efficacy.
Our results indicate a critical intermediary role of amotivation in linking neurocognitive impairment to functioning in FEP. General self-efficacy may represent a promising treatment target for improvement of motivational deficits and functional outcome in the early illness stage.
People with a history of self-harm are at a far greater risk of suicide than the general population. However, the relationship between self-harm and suicide is complex.
To undertake the first systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies of risk factors and risk assessment scales to predict suicide following self-harm.
We conducted a search for prospective cohort studies of populations who had self-harmed. For the review of risk scales we also included studies examining the risk of suicide in people under specialist mental healthcare, in order to broaden the scope of the review and increase the number of studies considered. Differences in predictive accuracy between populations were examined where applicable.
Twelve studies on risk factors and 7 studies on risk scales were included. Four risk factors emerged from the metaanalysis, with robust effect sizes that showed little change when adjusted for important potential confounders. These included: previous episodes of self-harm (hazard ratio (HR) = 1.68, 95% CI 1.38–2.05, K = 4), suicidal intent (HR = 2.7, 95% CI 1.91–3.81, K = 3), physical health problems (HR = 1.99, 95% CI 1.16–3.43, K = 3) and male gender (HR = 2.05, 95% CI 1.70–2.46, K = 5). The included studies evaluated only three risk scales (Beck Hopelessness Scale (BHS), Suicide Intent Scale (SIS) and Scale for Suicide Ideation). Where meta-analyses were possible (BHS, SIS), the analysis was based on sparse data and a high heterogeneity was observed. The positive predictive values ranged from 1.3 to 16.7%.
The four risk factors that emerged, although of interest, are unlikely to be of much practical use because they are comparatively common in clinical populations. No scales have sufficient evidence to support their use. The use of these scales, or an over-reliance on the identification of risk factors in clinical practice, may provide false reassurance and is, therefore, potentially dangerous. Comprehensive psychosocial assessments of the risks and needs that are specific to the individual should be central to the management of people who have self-harmed.
Relapse is distressingly common after the first episode of psychosis, yet it is poorly understood and difficult to predict. Investigating changes in cognitive function preceding relapse may provide new insights into the underlying mechanism of relapse in psychosis. We hypothesized that relapse in fully remitted first-episode psychosis patients was preceded by working memory deterioration.
Visual memory and verbal working memory were monitored prospectively in a 1-year randomized controlled trial of remitted first-episode psychosis patients assigned to medication continuation (quetiapine 400 mg/day) or discontinuation (placebo). Relapse (recurrence of positive symptoms of psychosis), visual (Visual Patterns Test) and verbal (Letter–Number span test) working memory and stressful life events were assessed monthly.
Remitted first-episode patients (n = 102) participated in the study. Relapsers (n = 53) and non-relapsers (n = 49) had similar baseline demographic and clinical profiles. Logistic regression analyses indicated relapse was associated with visual working memory deterioration 2 months before relapse [odds ratio (OR) 3.07, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.19–7.92, P = 0.02], more stressful life events 1 month before relapse (OR 2.11, 95% CI 1.20–3.72, P = 0.01) and medication discontinuation (OR 5.52, 95% CI 2.08–14.62, P = 0.001).
Visual working memory deterioration beginning 2 months before relapse in remitted first-episode psychosis patients (not baseline predictor) may reflect early brain dysfunction that heralds a psychotic relapse. The deterioration was found to be unrelated to a worsening of psychotic symptoms preceding relapse. Testable predictors offer insight into the brain processes underlying relapse in psychosis.
Previous neuroimaging studies indicate abnormalities in cortico-limbic circuitry in mood disorder. Here we employ prospective longitudinal voxel-based morphometry to examine the trajectory of these abnormalities during early stages of illness development.
Unaffected individuals (16–25 years) at high and low familial risk of mood disorder underwent structural brain imaging on two occasions 2 years apart. Further clinical assessment was conducted 2 years after the second scan (time 3). Clinical outcome data at time 3 was used to categorize individuals: (i) healthy controls (‘low risk’, n = 48); (ii) high-risk individuals who remained well (HR well, n = 53); and (iii) high-risk individuals who developed a major depressive disorder (HR MDD, n = 30). Groups were compared using longitudinal voxel-based morphometry. We also examined whether progress to illness was associated with changes in other potential risk markers (personality traits, symptoms scores and baseline measures of childhood trauma), and whether any changes in brain structure could be indexed using these measures.
Significant decreases in right amygdala grey matter were found in HR MDD v. controls (p = 0.001) and v. HR well (p = 0.005). This structural change was not related to measures of childhood trauma, symptom severity or measures of sub-diagnostic anxiety, neuroticism or extraversion, although cross-sectionally these measures significantly differentiated the groups at baseline.
These longitudinal findings implicate structural amygdala changes in the neurobiology of mood disorder. They also provide a potential biomarker for risk stratification capturing additional information beyond clinically ascertained measures.